No traces of Covid-19 found on London's tubes or buses

19 February 2021, 19:06 | Updated: 19 February 2021, 19:09

No traces of Covid-19 were found on a busy London Underground route
No traces of Covid-19 were found on a busy London Underground route. Picture: PA
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

No traces of Covid-19 have been detected on London's public transport after months of testing, researchers said.

Experts from Imperial College London have been taking air and surface samples each month since October but found no signs of contamination.

Tests were conducted on a tube journey between two major stations and on a bus ride in the capital.

Samples are taken from station concourses and commonly touched surfaces such as ticket machines and escalator handles to determine whether somebody with the virus has touched them.

Read more: Londoners pack on to tube at Canning Town

All the results have tested negative - including for the variants first discovered in Kent and South Africa.

Senior research fellow at Imperial, Dr David Green, said the findings testing are "reassuring for passengers".

Transport for London has been deep cleaning the Underground on a regular basis
Transport for London has been deep cleaning the Underground on a regular basis. Picture: PA Images

He told reporters a number of factors are contributing to the negative results, including Transport for London's (TfL) enhanced cleaning regime, the requirement for passengers to wear face coverings, and the reduction in demand.

"It shows that we're taking the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of transmission on the Underground network," he said.

Read more: 60 TfL staff have lost their lives due to Covid-19, LBC investigation finds

While no traces were found, the findings do not necessarily mean there has not been person-to-person on public transport in the capital.

In January, an LBC investigation found that 60 TfL staff had died after testing positive for Covid-19 - most of them bus drivers.

Strict rules have been in force on the tube throughout the pandemic
Strict rules have been in force on the tube throughout the pandemic. Picture: PA Images

Dr Green added that the tests will be useful when coronavirus restrictions begin to be eased later this year.

"It will be an early warning system to tell us, 'is the risk of transmission on transport networks becoming more likely as more passengers return to the networks?'," he said.

"We do need to keep social distancing in mind, and we do need to keep wearing masks because these are the reasons that the virus transmits between humans.

"It's through aerosol transmission, it's through touching surfaces, it's through being very close to other people."

A TfL spokesperson told LBC: "While these results are encouraging, people should continue to use public transport only if they have a legally permitted reason to do so according to Government advice."

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